The Mill

Over a century in the making

In 1892, Mother Agnes, the founder of our mill, stood on a bridge in Foxford and contemplated a future with community and craftsmanship at its core. She established Foxford Woollen Mill, as it was known then, as a means of improving people’s livelihood, and prospects for the area — it has supported the local community surrounding it ever since.

A True Visionary

To achieve her vision, Mother Agnes knew that the Foxford community needed to be both brave and inclusive. To this end, she partnered with John Smith, a Tyrone Protestant, to build the mill — a connection facilitated by the well-known Irish political leader Michael Davitt. This partnership broke with convention in the pursuit of something remarkable — a Protestant and Freemason working with a Catholic nun in 19th century Ireland was a rare thing.

The Throws of Success

The business flourished -employing 220 people during the first 90 years. In the early days, the mill was mainly manufacturing rugs and woven cloth. At one point, the fabric for every Garda uniform in the state rolled off the looms at FOXFORD. During this time, and to this day, the mill was a lifeline for local families. There was a buzzer on the top of the mill clock that acted as the village’s alarm from Monday to Friday. Even the local farmers ran on mill time. Many famous faces have shared in the history of FOXFORD, including Michael Collins and our first female President, Mary Robinson. Even James Joyce applied to be a FOXFORD agent. We are proud to be part of the fabric of Irish culture, too, with mentions in two of Joyce’s great works; Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.

New Custodians

As the years went on, and the demand for synthetic bedding grew, the mill fell on hard times and in 1987 the gates were closed for what the community thought was the last time. Joe Queenan, a young accountant and local man, was appointed as one of the receivers and saw huge potential in the business. At that time, unemployment in Ireland was at 18% and the mill was still an important local employer. Joe, with the help of others, decided to keep the mill — and Mother Agnes’ vision — alive and transformed it into the thriving brand we see today.

Innovation in Design

At the turn of the new millennium, FOXFORD joined forces with renowned Irish designer Helen McAlinden to create seasonal collections that draw inspiration from the rural West of Ireland scenery. Alongside these collections and our more recent creative collaborations with upcoming Irish designers the FOXFORD team works closely with a tight-knit group of suppliers to source the highest quality bed linen, homeware and clothing from creators and designers across Europe.